Skip to main content

Dr Birgit Breidenbach

I'm an Early Career Fellow at the Institute of Advanced Study and an associate tutor in the Department of English and Comparative Literary Studies and in the Institute for Advanced Teaching and Learning at Warwick. Since September 2017, I've also been a teaching fellow in Comparative Literature and Culture at Queen Mary, University of London.

My research focuses on literary and cultural theory, aesthetic forms of affect, the study of modernity and the interplay of literature and philosophy. I recently completed my PhD project, which examines the aesthetic concept of Stimmung or mood in the literature of modernity and which was supervised by Prof Thomas Docherty.

My PhD thesis addresses the different forms in which 19th- and 20th-century literature negotiates Stimmung as a central element of experience in the context of what Charles Baudelaire coined as the age of modernité. Mood permeates the literature of modernity, a historical period marked by a particular concern with the existential and subjective experience produced by the rapidly evolving social, technical and political circumstances of the post-Enlightenment age. Discussing the ways in which selected literary texts of the modern period, especially the works of Fyodor Dostoevsky, Samuel Beckett and Thomas Bernhard, engage with mood and the existential forms of attunement that were outlined by Martin Heidegger, I show that the concept of Stimmung deeply informs the reading experience, the aesthetic philosophy of modern literature and the discourse on modernity. Ultimately, I demonstrate that Stimmung is a constitutive element of modernity, both as a fundamental process in the experience of the literary text and as a pivotal philosophical concern.

I am currently co-editing on a research monograph on interdisciplinary perspectives on mood, based on the 2016 interdisciplinary conference Mood – Aesthetic, Psychological and Philosophical Perspectives, which I co-organised.

Academic history

  • PhD in English and Comparative Literary Studies, University of Warwick (2017)
  • MA in English and Comparative Literary Studies, University of Warwick (2013)
  • BA in English, German and Slavonic Studies, Justus Liebig University Gießen, Germany (2012)


Conference papers

  • "‘Into Murphy’s heart it would not enter’: Ontological and Aesthetic Attunement in Heidegger and Beckett" - 21st-Century Theories of Literature: Ethics, Tropes, Attunement, University of Warwick, April 2017
  • "Reading Mood: Spatiality, Presence and Affect" - Shifting Grounds: Literature, Culture and Spatial Phenomenologies, University of Zurich, November 2016
  • “The Case for Pathetic Fallacy, or What Is It Like to Be Thomas Bernhard’s Wingchair?” - 12th Warwick English Postgraduate Symposium, University of Warwick, May 2016
  • "Modernism and Mood: Heideggerian Stimmung in Beckett’s Narrative Fiction" - Beckett and Modernism, 2nd Conference of the Samuel Beckett Society, University of Antwerp, April 2016
  • "‘I will show you fear in a handful of dust' – The Mood of Modernism" - New Work in Modernist Studies, British Association for Modernist Studies, University of Exeter, December 2015
  • "Stimmung: Conceptualising Attunement in Music, Philosophy and Literature" - Music and Literature: Critical Polyphonies, Durham University, July 2015
  • "From Atmosphere to Affect: The Theory of Mood in Narrative Fiction" - Forms of Feeling: Reading for Affect and Emotion, UCLA, June 2015
  • Stimmung - Conceptualising the Contemporary through Attunement” - In Our Time, University of Malta, March 2015
  • “'The Story is in the Soil, Keep Your Ear to the Ground' - Narrative in Contemporary Popular Music” - Narrative 2013, International Society for the Study of Narrative, Manchester Metropolitan University, June 2013

Conferences organised

Funding and Awards

  • 2017-18: IAS Early Career Fellowship - University of Warwick
  • 2016: Nominated for the Warwick Awards for Teaching Excellence for Postgraduates who Teach (WATE PGR)
  • 2014-2017: Chancellor's Scholarship for PhD research - University of Warwick
  • 2012-2014: Scholarship holder of the Studienstiftung des deutschen Volkes (German National Academic Foundation)


Profile picture

Birgit Breidenbach

B dot Breidenbach at warwick dot ac dot uk